The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
A thing, in the Internet of Things, can be a person with a heart monitor implant, a farm animal with a biochip transponder, an automobile that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when tire pressure is low — or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the ability to transfer data over a network.
IoT has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), microservices and the Internet. The convergence has helped tear down the silo walls between Operational technology (OT) and Information technology (IT), allowing unstructured machine-generated data to be analyzed for insights that will drive improvements.
Why is IoT the upcoming trend? Here are a few reasons that will make you choose it above anything else. 6 major benefits (at least) that the IoT will bring:
- Tracking behavior for real-time marketing;
- Enhanced situational awareness;
- Sensor-driven decision analytics;
- Process optimization;
- Optimized resource consumption; and
- Instantaneous control and response in complex autonomous systems.
Associated with these benefits (and others) are the major driving forces that are pushing us at an increasing pace toward full IoT development and deployment. These forces include (at least) the following motivating factors:
Ubiquitous networks – personal wi-fi on your mobile phone and on every other device. Everyone (and everything) wants and needs to be connected.
Connected computing – we want all of our devices, phones, televisions, music players, vehicles, etc. to keep track of what we are doing, viewing, reading, and listening to as we move through our day, from place to place – the handoffs from device to device are already happening.
Ubiquitous sensors – on everything. It is already here – the Internet of Everything and the wearables revolution.
Analytics-as-a-Service – the API and App economies are already vast and growing – this enables any “thing” to “do something interesting” as long as it can connect to an API or invoke an App that performs a network-based service. The “thing” is a data generator and/or collector that also learns from, makes predictions, and maybe even takes data-driven actions in response to the data that are collected (through the versatility and convenience of an App or API call).
Marketing automation – mobile customer engagement, geolocation, Apple’s iBeacon, etc. are all creating a network of knowledge about customers’ locations, intentions, preferences, and buying patterns. Of course, this degree of location-based knowledge needs to strike the right balance between user privacy and the timely delivery of useful products and services to that user.
Supply Chain Analytics – delivering just-in-time products at the point of need (including the use of RFID-based tracking). Essentially, everything is a customer (including machines, automobiles, manufacturing plants, ATM machines, etc.), and the IoT is monitoring, watching, and waiting for a product need to arise.
In conclusion, the Internet of Things is closer to being implemented than the average person would think. Most of the necessary technological advances needed for it have already been made, and some manufacturers and agencies have already begun implementing a small-scale version of it. The main reasons why it has not truly been implemented is the impact it will have on the legal, ethical, security and social fields. Workers could potentially abuse it, hackers could potentially access it, corporations may not want to share their data, and individual people may not like the complete absence of privacy. For these reasons, the Internet of Things may very well be pushed back longer than it truly needs to be.